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Much of the talk surrounding Kevin Love's future has been speculation since he reportedly told the Minnesota Timberwolves he would opt out next summer. What would a team have to give up or be willing to give up to get the supremely talented power forward's services? Would Love sign an extension with his new team and would a lack of a guarantee he would re-up keep a team from acquiring him?

With the draft quickly approaching, more and more information is going to be leaked that could answer these questions. I say could because who knows how much of it is true and how much of it is bullshit posturing, either by agents looking to get their players in better situations or by teams trying to gain leverage over others.

Well, the first shoe has dropped. From Sam Amico at Fox Sports:



Huh. Anything but Cousins and no extension you say? This could be a problem in Boston.

The Kings pick 8th in the June 26 draft, two spots after the Celtics. Assuming none of the teams in the top-5 of the draft go after Love, watch out for Cleveland, Sacramento could be Boston's biggest threat when it comes to snatching up the sharpshooting big man. Of course, Love's hometown LA Lakers pick between the two teams, but if you really think they have a chance to get Love without any other assets at all but their top pick and cap space, I got some real estate on the moon I'd love to sell you.

So what would "anything but DeMarcus Cousins" look like? Salaries via ShamSports and stats via Basketball-Reference.

There's the 8th pick, which could easily be any of the real nice power forwards in this stacked draft. If Flip Saunders, Minnesota's president of basketball operations and part owner, tells Celtics GM Danny Ainge that he doesn't want what Boston has to offer, the latest report says Boston would take Aaron Gordon. Drafting the latest tweener forward would be a huge mistake by Ainge, but I digress. Depending on who the Lakers pick, either Julius Randle or Noah Vonleh should be there at No. 8. Those two are said to be high on Minnesota's list of wants.

The Kings owe a top-10 protected first rounder to Chicago in either 2015 or 2016, so they can't trade another first rounder until 2017 at the earliest.

As for players, the Kings could most likely offer soon-to-be second year guard Ben McLemore ($3,026,280), big man Derrick Williams ($6,331,404), and guard Isaiah Thomas to match Love's $15,719,063 salary. Thomas is a restricted free agent this summer so the deal would have to be a sign and trade.

Thomas put up 21.1 ppg and 6.3 apg while shooting 34.9 percent from beyond the arc as the team's point guard last season. Those are very nice numbers, but it's hard to see Thomas as the starting point man on a title team. Who knows what other teams would offer for Thomas, but an upgrade from the $884,293 he made last season to a contract averaging around $6.4 million per season, the difference needed to match Love, would be quite the upgrade for the 5'9" guard. Even if Minnesota had to pay a bit more for Thomas, the Wolves could throw in another player like Corey Brewer, Northeastern's own Jose Juan Barea, Luc Mbah A Moute or Ronny Turiaf to make salaries match. In Minnesota, Thomas should easily slot into the team's two-guard spot getting wide open looks from Spanish point guard Ricky Rubio.

Personally, I really like McLemore, so much so that if Boston decides to trade Rajon Rondo, assuming the Love deal doesn't workout and Ainge decides on a longer rebuild, I wouldn't turn up my nose to a package surrounding the 8th pick and the former Kansas Jayhawk, regardless of Rondo saying he wouldn't sign an extension in Sacramento. McLemore has the tools to be a deadly scorer in the game for many years to come and could become the Wolves' sixth man until he blossoms. While his rookie campaign wasn't spectacular, he did turn it on late, averaging 12.3 ppg in March and April while shooting 32.2 percent from deep. Not eye popping numbers, but he was a rookie on a team still seeking its identity. Not all rookies can be Anthony Davis. With Williams, in what would be his second stint in Minnesota, the Wolves get an immediate starter at PF, until the big they snag with the 8th pick is ready to take the reigns while also giving them depth on the bench.

This trade would give Sacremento a core of Cousins, Love, and Rudy Gay. Gay has a player option of $19.3 million for next season and he would likely not only accept that option, but would possibly sign an extension to be a part of that amazing front court. The Kings would also have bigs Carl Landry, Reggie Evans and Jason Thompson as well as wing Travis Outlaw to round out their rotation. Their guard situation would need serious attention, but a semi-capable distributor or two should be able to be had in free agency and hey, they still have former Celtic Jason Terry.

Whether that package is better than what Boston could offer, such as the 6th pick, Jared Sullinger, possibly the 17th pick, future picks and cap filler, is up to Saunders to decide. Either way, hearing that a team with a nice draft pick and real nice young players to offer is putting all their cards on the table for Love has to, at the very least, be troubling for Boston. Hopefully, these Gordon rumors aren't coming from Ainge, because he'd be shooting himself in the foot. A headline reading "Boston locked in on Randle" would have much more sway in getting Love than the Celtics looking at a guy Minnesota isn't interested in.

June just started. Expect more reports to come out regarding Love's value trade-wise as the draft nears, but this first salvo is far from encouraging.

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@ericblaisdell13

Eric Blaisdell 6/05/2014 01:24:00 AM Edit
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